Southwest Airlines has 72,000 employees (with plans to reach close to 100,000 in the next five years). With the help of Workday, the airline is making connections to enable a better employee experience in the hiring, onboarding, and career growth spaces. We caught up with a few of its senior leaders to discuss Southwest’s Workday journey and its path for the future.

What was workforce management like at Southwest before Workday?

As the company grows at a rapid pace, Southwest is laser focused on bringing in all the right people. Lindsey Lang, vice president of people, shared that this growth is a massive undertaking, and even though Southwest was hiring at a solid pace before Workday, some processes were inefficient, making it more difficult to find and onboard new employees. At Southwest, the cornerstone of the company’s culture is caring for its employees. Kayce Ford, vice president of technology, reiterated that taking good care of employees so they can take great care of their customers has long been a priority for Southwest. With the help of Workday, Southwest further prioritized investing in employees.

What have been the strongest benefits from partnering with Workday?

Instead of struggling through multiple human resources (HR) processes, Lang shared that HR business processes are now streamlined, which makes scaling that much easier with faster time to fill for the company’s internal customers looking to fill positions to meet growing business needs. Also, with the expectations of on-the-go modern employees, Southwest wanted to ensure that it met its people where they are. Ousman Afzal, managing director, technology, said that Southwest employees praised the move to a mobile-enabled system. For example, flight attendants can process pay-related requests on their mobile devices, eliminating the need for paper forms and empowering them to do their work more efficiently.

“Workday is absolutely transformative to our business … it’s going to allow us to scale and mature our HR function in a way that we never could have imagined.”

Lindsey Lang Vice President of People Southwest Airlines

How has Workday helped Southwest with HR analytics?

Southwest also implemented Workday Prism Analytics. “It’s been a huge benefit to us in being able to provide historical information regarding our employees,” said Tiffany Forrest, director of people systems. With the combination of real-time and historical data in one system of record, Southwest can tell a real story about its employees: their growth and where they want to go next, said Forrest.

What’s next?

As Lang put it when referencing Workday as Southwest’s human capital management system, “Workday is absolutely transformative to our business,” and the business can now scale and mature its HR function in a way that it would never have foreseen. As Ford shared, when leaders are thinking through HR business opportunities, their catch phrase is, “Why not Workday?” And as Ford said, “We’re just at the beginning, and I’m excited to see what else we can do in this wonderful partnership.”

Hear more from Southwest Airlines' leaders—watch the videos located at the top and bottom of this blog post.

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